BLM official: Rules mostly unchanged

Advertisement

A local Bureau of Land Man--agement range specialist doesn't expect new grazing regulations to have much effect on local ranchers.

The new regulations, which are two years in the making, largely clarify old regulations, said Andrea Minor, range management specialist with the BLM Little Snake Field Office in Craig.

"There isn't a whole lot of difference," Minor said.

Many of the regulations, she said, actually revert to the draft from 1995.

The new regulations were released earlier this month. Minor said they will be implemented "fairly soon."

The regulations will guide livestock grazing on BLM's 262 million acres of public lands. Most BLM lands are in the rural west.

One of the changes Minor expects ranchers to notice is in the way BLM reduces the number of animals in an area.

If the BLM wants to reduce the number of Animal Unit Months in an area by more than 10 percent, they have to phase in the changes throughout time.

An AUM is the amount of grazing by an animal in one month.

But, Minor said, ranchers are allowed to remove their animals right away if they want.

"If they want to do it immediately, we can allow for that," Minor said.

According to a BLM statement, the phase-in period will allow ranchers to prepare for "adverse economic impacts resulting from any grazing reductions."

The BLM can, however, reduce the AUM immediately in the case of drought or fire.

The price of AUMs will not change, but some BLM service fees will.

The cost to transfer grazing rights from one rancher to another will jump from $10 to $145.

Minor said the new fee more-accurately represents the cost of managing grazing on public lands.

"This is a way of getting some of our costs back," Minor said.

The transfer fee hasn't changed in 20 years.

The new regulations also redefine who is and isn't an "effected interest" in BLM grazing decisions.

Effected interests provide input on BLM grazing decisions.

Now, to be considered an effected interest, someone has to provide input throughout the BLM public process.

"They have to stay involved all the way," Minor said.

Nationally, environmental groups have said this new stipulation will shut them out of the process.


Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031 or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com

Commenting has been disabled for this item.